Back to the Belle Époque
Beginning in the sixteenth century, many pleasure palaces were built by the aristocracy along the Seine valley, as it was a suitable site and offered many advantages: access via the river, the proximity of the Château de Fontainebleau, and the beauty of the landscapes. However, it was the arrival of the railway in the 1850s that would allow the advent of tourism and leisure activities by opening up the valley, which was now only two hours from Paris.
“Stations climatiques” offering health treatments sprung up along the Paris-Lyon-Mediterranean railway line. Veneux-Nadon, Les Sablons, Moret-sur-Loing, Thomery, Montigny-sur-Loing saw the people of Paris flock during the summer to make the most of the “health-giving fresh air”.
Numerous residences were built by the triumphant bourgeoisie of the nineteenth century (including industrialists, bankers and traders), who went to their countryside or holiday homes to spend the summer and autumn, once the Parisian social season was over. Riverside villas, with various styles, competed to be the grandest. These remnants of the Belle Époque are part of the landscape and contribute to the charm of the Loing and Seine valleys.
Where can they be admired?
You can see these villas and manors, which borrow from exotic (cottage, Italian casino), regional (Anglo-Norman) and historical (medieval, Renaissance, industrial) styles, by strolling along the banks of the Seine in Thomery, the banks of the Loing in Montigny or, more originally, near the railway line, in particular in Veneux-les Sablons (Rue Victor Hugo).